SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A man who used to run San Francisco’s Building Inspection Commission is facing legal trouble after his firm was accused of submitting bogus documents and plans for work on three homes.
Rodrigo Santos is the former president of the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission.
Now he’s at the center of a lawsuit filed by the city attorney that alleges his private engineering firm — Santos & Urrutia — used forged documents, unlicensed contractors, secret building plans and outright lies to defraud the city and get away with illegal construction
When KPIX 5 asked Santos if he submitted falsified inspection reports with forged signatures, he replied, “Absolutely not.”
John Cote, Communications Director with the SF City Attorney’s office disagreed.
“Those laws that are designed to protect the public,” said Cote. “We’re being circumvented by the same individuals to try to get a competitive advantage on cost and speed while putting the public at risk.”
The City Attorney alleges a common scheme resulting in illegal excavation at three San Francisco homes.
In one case, the complaint said an unlicensed contractor was used to illegally excavate at a property, damaging the foundation of the home next-door.
In another case, the suit alleges the defendants submitted plans for a kitchen and bathroom remodel, but then used a secret set of plans to illegally excavate for a new floor and living space.
But Santos denies the allegations, or at least denies any responsibility.
“We’re not to blame at all,” he said.
When asked by KPIX 5 if his engineering firm submitted the plans to the city, he replied, “We did not submit the plans to the city. We developed a set of drawings that was presented to the builder. And the builder chose to pull different permits for different aspects of the project.”
He argued that his engineering firm doesn’t hire contractors or submit plans. He blamed the contractors who hired his firm.
At least one of those contractors also named as a defendant in the complaint, Andy Moussours, agreed.
“Absolutely that’s correct,” said Moussouras. “Why would the engineer be responsible when I’m not working for him? He’s working for me. You got it all backwards.”
But the City Attorney said it’s pretty clear.
“Different properties, different property owners, different contractors; the one constant is the engineering firm,” said Cote.
The City Attorney’s office points to evidence listed as exhibits in the complaint, including forged inspection reports that they say were submitted and signed by Santos and his partner.
The contractors and some of the property owners are also named in the complaint.